US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examines Texas oversight of wells used to dispose of oil and gas wastewater | WKZO | Everything Kalamazoo

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will review the state of Texas' oversight of wells that pump wastewater and carbon dioxide from oil wells into the ground, citing “significant concerns” from environmental groups that they have been responsible for a series of well blowouts, sinkholes and seismic activity.

The EPA announced the review in a May 23 letter to environmental groups, seen by Reuters on Friday.

An EPA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nine Texas-based environmental and citizen groups led by Commission Shift and Clean Water Action called for the review in March.

Texas has the authority to permit so-called “Class II” injection wells, which are used to dispose of drilling wastewater and inject carbon dioxide underground to improve oil production in active fields.

In their petition, the groups called on U.S. regulators to investigate whether the Texas Railroad Commission – the state agency that regulates oil production, exploration and transportation – is complying with federal standards designed to protect public health and the environment under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“We believe that a rigorous and transparent assessment by EPA will ultimately lead to stronger protections of our water resources and greater accountability in regulatory practices,” said Virginia Palacios, executive director of Commission Shift.

The Railway Commission was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Rod Nickel)

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